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NPO assisting survivors shares ways for victims to safely escape abuse

29 December 2021 - 12:37
Most calls the Tears Foundation received over the festive season were about domestic violence and sexual assault. Stock photo.
Most calls the Tears Foundation received over the festive season were about domestic violence and sexual assault. Stock photo.
Image: Vadmary/1213RF

Last year the Tears Foundation received nearly 43,000 calls for help regarding gender-based violence over the festive season, and this year looks to be just as dire.

The Tears foundation is an NPO assistance and support network for survivors of rape and sexual abuse.

Tears founder and CEO Mara Glennie said over the festive season last year they were inundated with 42,962 calls for help for gender-based violence (GBV), which was a 57% increase from November 2020 and a 117% increase from October 2020. 

“Most calls the Tears Foundation received over the festive season were related to domestic violence and sexual assault.

“Each survivor’s experience and healing process is different, and for some people, the holiday period may be an especially tough time.”

According to statistics for July to September 2021, 9,556 women were raped, a 7% increase from the previous period. In the three months, 13,000 cases of domestic violence were reported, and child murders increased by a third. 

Seugnette van Wyngaard, head of 1st for Women Insurance, a financial sponsor of Tears,  said: “Government’s goal is to eradicate GBV and femicide by 2030, but we are already on the back foot.

“While we wait for action and accountability to protect our women from the GBV pandemic, we need to do what we can to support the activists and advocacy groups who work tirelessly to assist victims and survivors of GBV in SA.”

According to the insurance company, a number of advocacy groups are working hard to ensure the 2030 goal is achieved by holding government accountable for the promises and commitments made.

“This is important, especially when the theme for 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children is moving from awareness to accountability. However, while civil society lobbies for change and action, violence against women and children continues, unabated, and increases over the December festive season,” the company said.

Glennie said: “Simple safety tips, self-care strategies and the support of loved ones can sometimes make all the difference.”

Tears Foundation’s advice to victims of GBV:

  • It is not your fault: When you are in an abusive relationship, you might blame yourself because your partner manipulates you into believing it is your fault. Abuse is never your fault. There is nothing you could do or say that would make it OK for someone to hurt you in any way.
  • Do not feel guilty:  Feeling guilty about the abuse can make you feel shameful about opening up to others about it. There is nothing to be ashamed of. You did not choose to be in a relationship with an abuser. It is not your fault.  
  • Make notes: Write down everything you can about the abusive incidents when your abuser is not around. Take screenshots of any abusive messages they send to you. If you are being physically abused, take pictures of the marks on your body and go to see a healthcare practitioner. The evidence can help you when you file a report with the police or get a protection order. Even if you have not written anything down before, write down what you remember from previous abusive episodes. You might already have messages as proof, so keep those too. Remember to keep those notes and images out of your partner’s sight.
  • Safety planning: This a crucial step for someone involved in an abusive relationship.
    • Do not tell your partner you are leaving them.
    • Trust your instincts.
    • Practise how to get out safely with your children.
    • Teach your children violence is never right, even when someone they love is being violent. Tell them that neither you nor they are at fault or are the cause of the violence, and that when anyone is being violent, it is important to stay safe.
    • Put together an emergency bag with money/credit cards/debit cards, extra keys, medicine and important papers such as birth certificates. Keep it somewhere safe and accessible.
    • Consider speaking to a trained domestic violence counsellor to create a detailed safety plan.

Tears is available every day, at any time of the day. For help dial *134*7355# and/or emergency, press 2 and follow the prompts. A first responder will contact you. This service is free 24/7.  They can be contacted on 010-590-5920 (standard rates apply) or e-mail info@tears.co.za.

TimesLIVE


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